What’s the difference between “baby blues,” postpartum depression, and postpartum psychosis?

The Baby Blues

The baby blues can happen in the days right after childbirth and normally go away within a few days to a week. A new mother can have sudden mood swings, sadness, crying spells, loss of appetite, sleeping problems, and feel irritable, restless, anxious, and lonely. Symptoms are not severe and treatment isn’t needed. But there are things you can do to feel better. Nap when the baby does. Ask for help from your spouse, family members, and friends. Join a support group of new moms or talk with other moms.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression can happen anytime within the first year after childbirth. A woman may have a number of symptoms such as sadness, lack of energy, trouble concentrating, anxiety, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. The difference between postpartum depression and the baby blues is that postpartum depression often affects a woman’s well-being and keeps her from functioning well for a longer period of time. Postpartum depression needs to be treated by a doctor. Counseling, support groups, and medicines are things that can help.

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is rare. It occurs in 1 or 2 out of every 1000 births and usually begins in the first 6 weeks postpartum. Women who have bipolar disorder or another psychiatric problem called schizoaffective disorder have a higher risk for developing postpartum psychosis. Symptoms may include delusions, hallucinations, sleep disturbances, and obsessive thoughts about the baby. A woman may have rapid mood swings, from depression to irritability to euphoria.

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